What's in a name? Power, character and maybe even a secret in your DNA. Yowda Rey inherited a very special name from his father. A title that he is living up to every single day. Yowda, a variation of the Hebrew word, Yadah (ריי), means praise, and Rey, means King (יָדָה). Yowda has been reigning as a King in Las Vegas, Nevada for several years, using music as a means to keep the peace between rival factions, so much so, that his recording studio was dubbed, "The Castle." Yowda, is a self-made man, a hustler and a grinder who has used his wisdom from natural intelligence and street smarts to create a much deserved status as a Hip Hop artist. His work ethic and savvvy word-play caught the eye of Rick Ross, the Boss, and owner of the MMG empire and history was made. Yowda, who was a consummate gentleman, during the interview revealed a true king's nature. Unmoved by fame, fortune and the materialism most artists salivate over, Yowda is more concerned about the true nature of the music industry, and that is the business of creating a sustainable enterprise. You do not want to miss this amazing interview with Yowda Rey, owner of Made Entertainment and protege of the prestigious MMG record label.
Moe: Hello, Yowda. It is such a pleasure to have you here on the show today. I always love for our readers to know a little bit about the artist before we get deep into things. Do you mind just telling us a little about yourself.
Yowda: My name is Yowda. I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada. Got my own company, Made Entertainment. Been grindin’ for a long time. MMG is what it is. Know what I’m sayin’? So, that’s where we’re at right now.
Moe: Perfect. Well, I’m excited about your new album. Do you mind sharing the title? I understand it was released mid July?
Yowda: Yeah. Curse of a Criminal Mind. It’s kind of the first album I put out where I really got into myself, so it’s a nice project. It’s a pretty well-rounded project. I’m pretty excited about it.
Moe: You mentioned this was a personal project for you. How long did it take for you to put this project together?
Yowda: Well, I have over 1500 songs recorded, so it wasn’t like really putting a project together, it was more like picking which ones were going to go on there. I’m a workaholic for real.
Moe: I can understand that. That’s why I assume you are part of one of the greatest labels, MMG with Rick Ross is a Boss, and I believe that is what he looks for in all of his artists. So right now, off of this new album, your newest release, Brickman is hot. Do you have a favorite song off of this album?
Yowda: My favorite song is, Curse of a Criminal Mind. I got a song on there called, Get Money. Me and Ross got a classic hit on there. I like the whole album. The whole vibe is pretty cool. It’s a different vibe for me really, so I am pretty excited about it. My favorite one is Curse of a Criminal Mind, the self-titled name of the album.
Moe: Let’s talk about what that means and why it is your favorite. What is it about that song?
Yowda: Curse of a Criminal Mind really explains the average street dude that’s going into his next level of life as far as legalizing himself. Because, you know, at the end of the day, when you grow up a certain way, by the time you really figure out what you want to do with your life, you’re already grown, and some things are really already set in you. So, sometimes, when I go certain places, I think about the things that can happen, like how it used to happen in the hood. I’m far from there, but, I still have that type of mindset, which is a good thing, because it keeps you on your toes at time. That’s why I say, Curse of a Criminal Mind. It’s hard to transition out of that for someone that was living in the streets and going through certain things. That’s why I got that curse of a criminal mind.
Moe: That’s deep. I really love the fact that you are saying that you are transitioning. I was doing some research, and I saw a statement that you made on your IG page about people not really supporting the artists in their own state where they live. I want to know what made you say that. It seems like you are very loyal.
Yowda: I’m from Las Vegas, so we don’t have too many artists that are really poppin’, as you would say, quote, unquote, but, we have a lot of talent in our city. A lot of people would rather support someone that they don’t know, than support someone they see struggling and trying to get up out of that. It’s really ridiculous. You know what I’m sayin’? It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s kind of how we are structured because of our so-called street politics or what’s going on. It’s kind of like, “Oh, I don’t want to mess with him because he is from that neighborhood,” but, you will go across a whole other state to support someone you don’t know. It’s kind of backwards a little bit, but that’s how the game is, so it is what it is. I see it all the time. People go out of their way to support somebody else.
Moe: Absolutely. It’s rampant in the music industry as a whole. What would you do to change that cycle?
Yowda: Well, in my city…I’m like, not to be a me-monster or nothing like that, you know what I’m saying? I get a lot of love in my city. I do. A lot of people respect me. If someone speaks down on me, it’s probably because they don’t know me. I don’t have any enemies. I can go anywhere in my city really, and be who I want to be. I show love. If you’re from my city and I know you’re trying to do something, I show everybody the same love and respect. I don’t like pick and choose if you’re from a different neighborhood. That’s actually how I got the name King Yowda. I had a studio that was a pretty big studio and I used to invite different people from different neighborhoods that never got along in Vegas. Gang-bangers that never even thought about talking to each other. I started inviting people over and we all making music and they started calling the place the castle. Everybody was coming over there. I had dudes from different neighborhoods, like I said, that would never speak to each other probably in life if it had not been for what we had going on. Since they called the studio, The Castle, they just started nick-naming me King Yowda and it stuck. So, I didn’t even name myself that. They would just see me and say, “King Yowda. What up man!” But, that was because I was trying to unite everybody and get everybody to work. You know, I got people that don’t even know me and walk up to me and talk about that all the time.
Moe: That’s very cool. That says a lot about you as a person. So what does Yowda represent for you? I mean, they gave you the name, but what does Yowda actually mean?
Yowda: Oh, no. It’s Yowda Rey. The King Yowda, they just gave me that. My name is Yowda Rey. That means a king dancing for the Lord. It’s my dad’s name.
Moe: Oh, wow! Wonderful! I did not know that. It’s interesting you have that name and yet and still you are a peace maker, trying to keep people together and are respected in that way. That’s fabulous. Are you going to be touring soon? What is happening with the promotion of your new album?
Yowda: Right now, I’m flying home tonight and I am supposed to be get with my manager and we will go over the whole schedule for me the next two, three months, so, I’m pretty excited.
Moe: Excellent. How long have you been with MMG, like officially?
Yowda: About four years.
Moe: How has being under Rick Ross’ MMG label changed your life, if at all?
Yowda: People don’t understand that once you are affiliated with someone like that, it’s when the work really begins. Before that, people weren’t really paying attention to me. I was traveling everywhere and I was grinding hard. People were just looking at me like, oh, he’s just a dope boy trying to rap, so they didn’t really respect me as a rapper. Then, when Ross co-signed me, people respected me as a rapper. So now the eyes are really on me now. It’s like, what’s he trying to say now. So, that’s when the grind really started then, being over there on that label, your grind gotta be exceptional, because everybody else is really, really movin’. So, I like it. A lot of other people might not be able to keep up with it, you know, it’s not in everybody, but I like it. I love what we got going on over there. You know diamonds come from pressure, so I love it. My first three years, I wasn’t really poppin’ so I was putting out three to four mixtapes a year, easy, with singles and videos. I got a lot of songs out and I stay in the studio recording. I got tapes with all kind of people. I got a lot if you really look into it. Like, after this album comes out on July 19th, I got another two albums already done. I just dropped two albums within this last month. I dropped a tape with Slim 400, he’s one of YG’s artists out of Compton, California, and I just dropped a tape with Arsonal Da Rebel, he’s out of New Jersey. Then I was gone drop a tape called, Raps a Terrible Thing to Waste. I just got so much music, I just want to put something out for the people, and then my album.
Moe: Wow. Now, you said you have a catalogue of like 1500 songs. That says a lot about you as far as being a workaholic. That’s pretty intriguing. So, I want to ask you, because a lot of people get wrapped up in the label that they forget about the artists. It’s very important to me to let people hear you speaking about you. What do you think it was that Rick Ross saw in you, that made him say, oh, yeah, he’s good for this label?
Yowda: To be honest with you, I think it was my presence and how he saw I was moving in my city. You know I started rapping because of a bet. I lost a bet so I had to put out a tape. Now that tape that I put out, that was my very first one, and Ross actually got his hands on that. I was in Atlanta at the time and one of my homeboys called me and said, “Ross is singing your song right now, he’s trying to meet you.” I was like, “man, get out of here.” I hung up on him. Then he called me back and I was like, “man, quit playing on my phone bro. I’m busy.” So the next time Ross was in Vegas, he reached out. You know, I had some cool songs, but it’s nothing like now. I’ve developed as an artist completely different from all those hours in the studio, you know? I think what kept him working with me, is that he sees my work ethic. If you see somebody working, you got to respect it, you know?
Moe: Absolutely. Now you mentioned Vegas. Vegas is a show town, and I know you said there is a lot of talent in Vegas, but what is the culture like there for Hip Hop artists?
Yowda: Well, like as far as the culture, we’re like from the West Coast. So, it’s a West Coast vibe. It gets over shadowed because people come to Vegas and they don’t believe Vegas has neighborhoods because the strip is so popular. We got a Martin Luther King, a Westside, a Northside, all that. That’s why I feel like my situation is so special. I can give someone a special glimpse of a city that they didn’t think was there.
Moe: In terms of branding yourself, what would you say is your mission statement as an artist?
Yowda: Family and friends. I need my family and friends to be in a better place. That’s my main goal.
Moe: Got you. Now you talked about your new album and how it reflects you being in a transition status, leaving the streets and legalizing yourself through music. Did you ever think you would be in this position?
Yowda: No. No, because I told you I started rapping because of a bet. Even before that, I was doing my thing in the streets and I was getting money, so I was like, “I’m not finna be rappin’. I get money right now. Why would I want to be…,” you know what I’m saying? That was like my whole thing. It’s crazy because I was really anti-rapper, because I was like, “man, these niggas be lying about what they talkin’ bout and I’m really out here. I’m really out her doing this. I’m out here getting money. I’m not about to be listening to nobody tell me what I can do, and now, I am trying to get everybody to do it, so they won’t be in that same situation. I did five years in prison. So, to keep it real, in the streets you feel like going to jail and going to prison, you earn stripes and it solidifies you. But, what really solidifies you is taking care of your family and friends. That solidifies you more than anything. A man in jail can’t do that. Only a free man. So, that’s what I try to explain to people, you know. We are using our brains and our abilities for the wrong things when can do a lot more positive things out here.
Moe: Absolutely. That just struck a nerve inside of me. That is something we are doing a panel on in the future, music and how it is affecting our youth and the deception.
Yowda: Very much so. Yeah.
Moe: You’re amazing. I am just really so honored to be able to sit here and talk to you. Your ideology is a little different from the people that I normally speak to, and I love that.
Yowda: I’m not gonna lie to you. You know a lot of people tell me that?
Moe: Really? Are you serious?
Yowda: Yep. They say when we listen to your music and have a conversation with you, it’s two different people. I try to explain to them that the music is entertainment. I do have a brain in my head, you know what I’m saying?
Moe: Well, now that we have kind of opened up that Pandora’s box and are talking about entertainment, how would you go about explaining the dividing line between entertainment and business, as opposed to just your skill? People wanting to get into this industry need to know the truth.
Yowda: Business is 90 percent. I really feel like that. Business is 90 percent. When I did my first CD, I will give you an example, this is the first feature I ever paid for in my life. 2 Chains came to Vegas. We picked 2 Chains up, Lamborghini’s, Bentleys, all that type of stuff. We picked him up, and I told him I want to do a song, and he was like, alright give me some money, so I gave him some money for the feature, and I was like, ay man, this song is finna blow! I just did a song with 2 Chains. So, after I finished the song, it was like, now what are you going to do with it? I was like as long as I got 2 Chains on it, it’s all good. And they was like, nah. So, now that I am a bit more business savvy about everything, I can get on a tight beat and say nothing and as long as my business is together, it’s gone sell. We’ve seen that a million times. So again, business is 90 percent, and that’s why a lot of these artists are getting screwed. That’s why a lot of people are not doing like they are supposed to be doing, is because they don’t have their business together. You know, the messed up thing about society is, more people are into looking like a rapper, than being one, or more interested than looking like a rapper than looking like a businessman. You know what I am saying? So, that is a problem.
Moe: I love this conversation. This is fantastic. Getting back to your new release, how many tracks are on Curse of a Criminal Mind?
Yowda: Um, hmm.
Moe: Why 13?
Yowda: It was a nice, snug fit, you know what I mean? I didn’t want to over-do it. People have short attention spans. But they’re like really quality songs.
Moe: What is your process of choosing songs out of a catalogue of over 1500 songs? That’s a lot of music.
Yowda: I will tell you what my process is right now. I’m a weird dude. You might laugh at this, but the songs I like, that I think are the ones, none of my homeboys like. I’m blessed to not have a lot of yes men around me right now, number one. I’m super blessed about that. My home boys will tell me something like, “Yowda, that’s not it,” and I’ll be like, “for real?” Like the songs I like, I will ask them to listen to and I’ll be dancing to it, and they will be like, “nigga, no.” You feel me? They will be like, no. (Laughter). This is what I do all the time and people take it the wrong way sometimes and be like he is always listening to his own music, and I’m like, nah, I’m really not, I’m looking for your reaction.
Yowda: So, every time I get around some new people, I will play certain songs, or I will be in the studio and I will play certain stuff and just sit back and like watch and catch the vibe, and that’s what I do. I have a studio and when I pick my songs or I pick my beats, I kick a lot of people out of my studio all the time.
Yowda: I’m not into having a whole bunch of chicks and a whole bunch of dudes in the studio. Yeah, I’m not into all that. So, when I first get to the studio, like I will have all the homies come through there and they might invite some chicks over or whatever, and while everyone is in there, I will go through my beats, and while I am going through my beats, I will scan around the room. I don’t smoke or drink, so while they are smokin’ and drinkin’ stuff like that and vibin’, I will see what they are vibing to the most and that’s how I pick my beats, and then I will be like, alright, everybody go, and they will be like, “What!” And I will be like everybody gotta go.
Moe: (Laughs) Interesting.
Yowda: Then I get to working. That;s how I pick my songs too. Somebody get in the car, or when random people get in the car, sometimes I will be in the car with Ross, or something like that, and I will play some stuff when we’re talking or whatever. If something is nice, it will catch your attention and you will start bopping to it, no matter what you’re talking about, and that is how I pick my music.
Moe: That’s interesting, but I love that concept because you are playing your music to someone who does not have an idea yet, of what they are listening to, so if they are vibing, it’s a good song.
Yowda: Yeah, because I ain’t gone download my own music. I need everybody else too, you, know?
Moe: (Laughs) That’s a business man speaking y’all. So far, what has been the most interesting thing you have done as an artist, something you have been blessed to do, or never conceived you would have done?
Yowda: I will tell you like this. The most craziest thing that has happened, that’s interesting to me…like, I really don’t get too excited over nothing. They always tell me that. Like, “you never get excited.” I’m like, “nah.” The only thing that really excited me, is LL Cool J followed me on Instagram and made a comment to me about my music.
Moe: (Laughs) Oh, my goodness.
Yowda: When he did that, I was like, what! That’s L.L. fool! I was like, What! I went back and listened to all his music, old stuff I didn’t never hear, all that for about a week. My homies was like, “Bruh. You around rappers every day.” I was like, that’s L.L. fool. He’s got movies, he’s on In Too Deep, is, he’s on t.v., nigga, that’s L.L. And, one time we had left a studio session with Busta Rhymes, and this was his first time getting hip to me, and we went to the club afterwards. I don’t really go out to the clubs too much. If I’m not on a flyer, I really don’t go out too much, you know what I’m saying? So, I had went out to go f*ck with him and when I walked up to him, He was like, “Yowda! I appreciate your contribution to Hip Hop and I can’t believe you rap like that and you are from Vegas,” and on and on, and I was like, dayum, man. You know that type of stuff. The biggest moment I’ve had since I’ve been rappin’, I ain’t gone lie, was when my mom texted me, and she was like, “I ust heard somebody driving down the street listening to your music.” I was like okay… I was like alright. “Did that surprise you?” She was like nah, you get it from me.” That was like the first time she ever acknowledged anything about my music. Last year I had over a million hits on Spotify, so I sent her the whole thing, and I sent her this, and she was like, yeah whatever. We will be at Walmart, and I have had people come up to me, and ask to take pictures with me, and my mom was always like, yeah whatever, nigga. Like c’mon. You know what I’m saying?
Moe: (Laughs) That is hilarious. That’s a mother for you. To her, you’re just her son (laughs). She’s proud of you. You’re her son. You’re her baby.
Yowda: She will be like, “It’s the first of the month. I need some of that rap money for rent.” Like, that’s her. I will be like, “Alright mama. I got you.”
Moe: (Laughs) That is so fantastic. I believe that is the beautiful part of all of this, that you can actually do things like that and give back. Phenomenal. I know people are going to want to hear your all of your music, including your new project and learn so much more about you as an artist. Can you please share your social media information so that they can do that?
Yowda: Yeah. Yeah. @1Yowda on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Tumbler, Tic Toc, Thriller, all that. It’s the same thing, @1Yowda. I always tell ‘em, if you got a reason to hate me or need some motivation, follow me on social media and I’ll give you both.
Moe: This has been an incredible interview. I just want a closing statement from you. Is there anything you want to say for motivational purposes or just for inspiration?
Yowda: Man… Stay prayed up. Work hard and stay prayed up.